Gendered ageism: the next #MeToo moment for women?

A new survey aims to expose the long-term impact of unpaid care work on women’s earnings as well as the effect of discrimination and a workplace that often doesn’t take women’s life experiences into account.

Savings & Pensions’s sister site has launched a survey to find out the experience of older women in the workforce in view of concerns about the gender pension gap, which currently stands at 40.3%.

The Age and Gender Survey 2022, sponsored by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, is aimed at women aged 45+ and covers everything from the impact of the menopause, caring responsibilities, discrimination and other factors on the jobs women do, the hours they work, how they are rewarded, how they progress and what their pensions are.

There has been a lot of attention of late on the experience of menopausal women in the workplace, with various surveys and events highlighting high drop-out rates and an impact on working hours. The Women & Equalities Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the menopause in the workplace, with a view to considering if legislation is needed to prevent discrimination.

Gendered ageism crosses over and in that many of the issues that contribute to financial problems in older age begin or worsen when women have children. We have, for instance, long charted the long-term financial impact of career breaks for caring on women and the unequal care burden on women as well as practical initiatives to reduce this, such as equal parental leave policies and returner programmes.

So in addition, the survey will look to interrogate not only the impact on older women of career breaks, part-time working and unequal care burdens, but also the ongoing effect of gendered ageism and the implications for the gender pension gap and their retirement plans. It will also cover what initiatives from employers would help or are already helping to mitigate this. The survey’s results will be available from April 2022.

There have been a crop of books and podcasts springing up in the last few years about gendered ageism. Bonnie Marcus, author of Not Done Yet!: How Women Over 50 Regain Their Confidence and Claim Workplace Power, conducted research mainly in the US, Canada and the UK in relation to older women’s experience in the workplace. Calling gendered ageism the next #MeToo movement for women, she says: “Researchers have concluded that ageing is a gendered process and that overall women face grave challenges and discrimination during the ageing process, particularly when it comes to financial and work-related matters.”

*To take part in the survey, click here.

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